Major Media Trends

TV news viewership has increased, according to the Pew State of the News Media 2012 report.The Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2012 report was released March 19. Here are brief (and shortened) excerpts taken verbatim from the report’s Major Trends segment:

Each year, this report identifies key trends in the news industry. In addition to the shift to mobile and the intensifying gap with the biggest technology companies, here are other trends that stand out:

Mobile may be leading to a deeper experience with news than on the desktop/laptop computer. 

As sales of e-readers and tablet computers grow, PEJ’s early research has found consumers are reading more immersively on these devices than on earlier technology. New survey data released here add to that. More than a quarter of the population, 27 percent, now get news on mobile devices. And these mobile news consumers are even more likely to turn to news organizations directly, through apps and home pages, rather than search or recommendations — strengthening the bond with traditional brands. 

Social media are important but not overwhelming drivers of news, at least not yet.

Some 133 million Americans, or 54 percent of the online U.S. population, are now active users on Facebook (out of 850 million monthly active users globally)… But the notion that large percentages of Americans now get their news mainly from recommendations from friends does not hold up, according to survey data released here. No more than 10 percent of digital news consumers follow news recommendations from Facebook or Twitter “very often,” the new survey finds. And almost all of those who do are still using other ways like going directly to the news website or app as well.

News viewership on television grew in unexpected venues

At the three traditional broadcast television networks, news audiences grew 4.5 percent, the first uptick in a decade. At the local level, audiences grew in both morning and late evening, the first growth in five years.

More news outlets will move to digital subscriptions in 2012 — as a matter of survival.

Perhaps as many as 100 more papers are expected in coming months to join the roughly 150 publications that already have moved to some kind of digital subscription model. The move, long-anticipated and long-delayed, is only partly influenced by the success of The New York Times’ “metered model,” which now has some 390,000 subscribers and resulted in almost no loss in more casual online traffic… A growing number of executives predict that in five years, many newspapers will offer a print, home-delivered newspaper only on Sunday, and perhaps one or two other days a week that account for most print ad revenue.

As privacy becomes an even larger issue, the impact on news is uncertain.

There has always existed a tension between the services that technology companies provide and the data about consumers they gather and then leverage for financial gain. Those tensions have swelled as app technology, new methods for targeting advertising, (and) the rise of Facebook and Google’s new privacy settings intensified the debate how those data are used. For their part, consumers are becoming more conscious of their digital profiles. As of early 2012, roughly two-thirds of the Internet population is uneasy with targeted advertising and search engines tracking their behavior.

…To survive, news must find a way to make its digital advertising more effective — and more lucrative — and the gathering of consumer data is probably the key. Yet news organizations also must worry about violating the trust of their audiences. The longer they hesitate, the more market share they lose.

Watch this blog for the third part in a series on key findings in the Pew media report

•  Part 1: Dancing With Big Technology

•  Part 3: Key Findings (posted March 30)